Monday, 30 March 2015

Stars On 45: Little White Bull / Singing Time by Tommy Steele (Decca, 1959)

Its back to the 1950s with another 50p 45RPM Newport charity shop find (located on March 14, 2015) ...

I missed the 1950s by nearly a decade but was always aware of the music of Tommy Steele during my formative years in the 1970s with frequent TV appearances of the star in various variety shows and reruns of his film Half a Sixpence...

One film which I only recall seeing once on television however was his 1959 movie Tommy The Toreador which also featured Sidney James and Bernard Cribbins and finds Tommy as a sailor arriving in Spain and been mistaken for a famous bullfighter.

Possibly modern attitudes that now encourage an aversion to bullfighting have prevented this 1950s pop and comedy crossover from been rerun on our TV screens for the last three decades but Tommy's hit single from the film, Little White Bull coupled with Singing Time (Decca F11177) is still fondly remembered.

Little White Bull was written by Lionel Bart (who had also penned Living Doll for Cliff Richard), Jimmy Bennett and Mike Pratt (who would later go on to star in the 1960s ghost sleuth drama series Randall & Hopkirk Deceased).

Little White Bull reached No.6 following its release in December 1959 and stayed in the charts for a total of 17 weeks continuing to sell well into 1960.

Issued in a picture sleeve featuring a cartoon of Tommy and a Little White Bull, the single cover states: Tommy Steele's Royalties From The Record Will Be Donated By Him To The Variety Club Of Great Britain Fund For A Cancer Research Unit For Children. A great example of how buying records to support a charitable cause was around long before 1984's  Band Aid and Do They Know It's Christmas?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Guide Featuring Simon & Garfunkel Story, The Drop and Tigercats

This weeks e-edition of The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide is currently online featuring a Q&A with Tigercats and an interview with Dean Elliott who stars in the show The Simon & Garfunkel Story which is currently touring the UK.

There are also some reviews including albums Meghan Trainor's Title and Menace Beach's Ratworld and the Tom Hardy DVD The Drop.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Book Collection: Ronnie In The Chair by Spike Mullins

"My great grandfather was killed at Custer's last stand - he didn't take any part in the fighting, he was camping nearby and went over to complain about the noise."

Words that may be familiar from the voice of Ronnie Corbett, delivered from that oversize chair in his wonderful solo spots in The Two Ronnies but written by comic script-writer Spike Mullins who compiled some thirty four witty monologues for Ronnie In The Chair (Michael Joseph) in 1978.

This book is a nice "pick up at any time, open up a page and dive in" title, fusing memories of Ronnie Corbett's great comic delivery with some cleverly constructed comic scripts (and some lively illustrations from Bristow cartoonist Frank Dickens).

Monday, 23 March 2015

Stars On 45: Monsoon - Ever So Lonely (The Mobile Suit Corporation, 1982)

Monsoon - Ever So Lonely, 1982
This weeks Stars on 45 is another recent Newport Charity Shop find (March 14, 2015), again for 50p.

When the New Romantics were battling for chart space with the Electro-Pop pioneers in the early 1980s it would usually be quite refreshing when something different entered the charts.

Such was the case when progressive rock trio Monsoon's combination of Indian-Western pop fusion Ever So Lonely (The Mobile Suit Corporation, CORP 2) broke into the UK Top 20 after its release in April 1982. 

With ithe combination of Sitar sounds,  a driven beat  and vocals from Sheila Chandra (at the time well known for her then recent regular role as pupil Sudhamani Patel in the BBC TV series Grange Hill) the record was exciting and mesmerizing and ultimately peaked at No.12 in the chart.

Chandra continued to record with producer Steve Coe and Bassist Martin Smith but Ever So Lonely 
would prove to be Monsoon's biggest hit, the release still sounds strong over three decades later, and still remains one of the most exciting singles of the early 80s.

Above is Monsoon's Top Of The Pops appearance from 1982.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Guide Featuring Purple and Robot Wars

This weeks South Wales Argus Guide e-edition features my Q&A with Hanna from Texas rockers Purple and a chat I had earlier this week with Robot Wars Live Tour Technical Director John Findlay.

You can also read the interviews over at the Entertainment South Wales blog:

Monday, 16 March 2015

Stars on 45: The Dave Clark Five - Good Old Rock N Roll (Columbia, 1969)

A Charity shop find from a few years ago in Newport for 50p, The Dave Clark Five Play Good Old Rock 'N' Roll (Columbia DB8638)from 1969 is a bit of a mammoth release for the 45 RPM format.

Firstly, rare for the 1960s (especially in the UK) this single comes in a picture sleeve featuring cartoon characters of the DC5. Secondly, the single itself features a medley of seven songs on the A side comprising the tracks Good Old Rock N Roll, Sweet Little Sixteen, Long Tall sally, Chantilly Lace, Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On, Blue Suede Shoes and Lucille. The B side features a medley of two fuller recordings of Reelin' and Rockin' and Memphis Tennessee.

Released in time for Christmas 1969 and capitalizing on the then current Rock N Roll Revival trend, these medleys are fully of boundless energy and appear to be recorded in the studio with girls screams overdubbed to create a live effect.

Both tracks are also well over the five minute length mark proving great value for money at the time and displaying the Dave Clark Five were well ahead of their time as the medley single format would prove popular once again in the early 1980s with releases from Starsound, Gidea Park, The Beatles and The Hollies.

No doubt this release went down particularly well at Christmas parties in 1969. Good Old Rock N Roll peaked in the UK chart at No.7 and proved to be The Dave Clark Five's final chart hit of the 1960s.

Check out the above YouTube video to hear the song...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Guide Featuring Laura Wright, Demob Happy and Spamalot

This weeks edition of The Guide, The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement I compile and write for published on Friday and is available to view as an online e-edition every week.

This weeks highlights include a Meet The Band Q&A with Demob Happy, my interview with sporting soprano Laura Wright as she embarks on a headline tour and my personal recollection of having a walk-on role as Sir Not Appearing in Monty Python's Spamalot...

Vintage Vinyl: Redesigning Russ Conway

The original EP Cover from 1967
Following a recent post I made on the Facebook Russ Conway public group regarding Russ Conway's 1967 EP Always You And Me, I thought it might be a nice idea (for fun) to attempt a quick redesign of the cover.

Reverse of the original EP Cover
The only elements I've retained from the original cover are Angus McBean's portrait of Russ and the Columbia/EMI Records logos.

My 2015 redesign for Russ Conway's
Always You And Me
My redesign includes the much more simplified use of a single font Copperplate and I've recreated the background of the portrait to flesh it out across the sleeve more naturally. Naturally Photoshop wasn't available to the original designer back in 1967 but I'm quite proud of my new look which still manages to retain a retro feel to it...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Retro Scrapbook: The Bangles File - Part 1

The Bangles as they featured on the cover of Look-In in 1986
Although they had been recording since the early 1980s, American band The Bangles didn't actually make much of an impression on the UK chart until they released the Prince composed track Manic Monday from their second CBS LP Different Light in 1986.

Racing to No.2 in the UK chart Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson and Michael Steel quickly became familiar faces on the television screen and were quick to follow with UK gigs and regular TV appearances.

I was particularly drawn to Manic Monday and the B side In A Different Light (still one of my favourite Bangles tracks) and quickly found myself amassing cuttings of the band from papers and magazines.Nearly three decades on I've scanned in much of what I have left from these clippings and will post them among others in coming months. This particular cutting is from a 1986 edition of the childrens comic magazine Look-In which featured The Bangles as cover stars and poster stars. The poster is accompanied by an article looking at the bands history and featured a title  Now They Know What They Want which tied in with their second UK hit If She Knew What She Wants.

Vicki Peterson is quoted in the article about The Bangles simpler sound: ""We're trying to recapture a sound that was popular before the laser rock and big stadium acts of the 70s. It's a simpler sound. And we arent the only band doing it. Right here in Britain you have The Smiths."


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